I have a DREAM that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: / we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
I have a DREAM that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a DREAM that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
– Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream, 1963.
(I have a DREAM wasn’t part of his written speech. He strayed from his written speech and reacted to a cheer from the crowd asking him about his dream.)
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – January 17, 2010
We pause today to remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As we remember everything he did to further the Civil Rights Movement in America, we can use this opportunity to dig deeper into his life and his words to uncover principles that we, as Christians, should endeavor to follow, based on their foundation in the Word of God.
In 1957, Dr. King was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi. In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action. (from “Martin Luther King – Biography“, Nobelprize.org. 13 Jan 2011)
Dr. King was willing to travel over SIX MILLION MILES in support of this noble and worthy cause. He traveled to wherever there was injustice. Are we willing to do the same? Are we willing to travel to spread the Good News of the Gospel to our fellow Americans, or to people of other nations? How far are we willing to go for not only a noble cause, but for God, our Father, to bring men, women and children into the family of God?
“All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Do we see the interrelatedness of humanity like Dr. King did? How about just the interrelatedness of us to one another as Christians? The Bible tells us that we are all members of one body, the Body of Christ. The body can only function properly when each member is doing its part. Notice I said, “ITS part.” Not someone else’s part. Each of us has a unique part to play in the overall functioning of the Body.
I Have a Dream; August 28, 1963
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In Matthew 22:39, Jesus implores us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Sometimes that can seem hard to do. It can seem overwhelming and nearly impossible. I heard an interesting comment on this Scripture the other day. The person said, God said to love your neighbor, singular, not your neighbors, plural. It gave me a new perspective on this passage and how we can actually walk it out in our daily lives. God is not asking us to love everyone that is “unlovable” to us all at one time, but to love each person as we come into contact with them. It takes the “impossible” and breaks it up into “possible” chunks – but only with God’s help! Can you believe God to help you with loving people, one at a time?
I’ve Been to The Mountaintop; April 3, 1968
“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people,will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Word of God says this:
“The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Romans 3:9-11 NIV
Indeed, the hour for Jesus’ return is nearer in these last days than at any other time in history. Dr. King’s words are just as true today as when he spoke them over 40 years ago. We, too, must not worry or fear about the difficult days ahead. We must keep our focus on the task at hand – to be ambassadors for the kingdom of heaven while we are still here on earth, and while there is still time to effect change in the lives of those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Do not despair for the Lord Jesus is right by your side to assist you along the way. Lean and rely on Him as you purpose to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today. Let his heart of service inspire you to serve others!